My kids, as I have described before, have food allergies, which is one of the reasons why we read labels so feverishly in our house. So, anything related to food allergies have my full attention as I would love for them to not have to worry about foods they put in their mouth creating anxiety with having to always have an epi-pen nearby.
The Top 8 food allergens are Wheat, Soy, Peanuts, Milk, Tree Nuts, Eggs, Fish, and Shellfish. According to the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at University of Nebraska, these foods account for 90% of all food allergies in the U.S.
So, how do these fit into the Paleo diet?
Paleo feels very strongly on all of these actually, just not the same way on each one.
The first 3 are looked down upon because of the issues with allergies that a lot of people have and the digestive/hormonal issues that people can get from eating these foods. Wheat, specifically gluten or another protein in wheat, can cause all sorts of digestive issues. Legumes are not allowed on strict paleo, but things like soaked lentils or black beans are gaining some traction. But soy has been shown to have estrogenic effects on hormones that can create havoc if not fermented first, or in the absence of a good amount of seafood. And peanuts are another legume that many people do not respond well to, specifically, 1.4% of the U.S. population have an allergy to this legume, and though the cause is not fully determined, many people think it is because of the mold content that is the major reason. Sounds yummy now, huh?
Then there is milk, which is a gray food that, if full fat and well tolerated, is allowed, but someone starting out on Paleo should avoid to try and make sure they don’t have issues from drinking it or using one of the other products that are milk based, such as ghee, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.
Then there are tree nuts and eggs. These are fully allowed on the Paleo diet, unless you have an autoimmune disease that would handle these things improperly and cause flare-ups. See The Paleo Approach for more info. Eggs are extremely nutritious, but with a leaky gut or an off kilter gut microbiota, can cause problems for the rest of a person’s body. And tree nuts are less useful, but still a good fat for the majority of people, with certain nuts being very beneficial in the Omega-3/Omega-6 scale.
And then there are fish and shellfish, which are extremely beneficial and helpful, and again, if tolerated, can really increase the nutrition of your diet immensely.
So, why are these foods so diametrically opposed?
Some foods are just blatantly bad and not really beneficial for anyone, such as the first three. And I personally believe the reason the really beneficial ones are due to, as I mentioned above, gut problems. If the gut is extremely out of sorts, then it can’t handle the beneficial foods yet, and the more in line the gut is, then the extremely beneficial foods are helpful and can keep you moving toward optimal health. This is why we have kids who grow out of food allergies. My kids just got allergy testing done last week and we found out that my daughter, at this point, is only now allergic to peanuts, according to the blood test. She has a very low allergy to eggs that we are going to test in the coming weeks, but has grown out of her milk allergy completely at this point at almost 5 years old.
My son, who is 2 years younger, has a ways to go. He still has a milk and egg allergy, so we have to watch for things like butter or cheese, and eggs, which are everywhere. So, we are hoping that as we keep giving him good, nutritious foods, we will be able to help him grow out of his allergies as well. The freeing effects of being able to go anywhere and get something would be amazing and cut down on major anxiety for my wife and I.
But both children tested negative for wheat/gluten and tree nuts. So they can have those if need be, but we do notice a behavioral difference in my daughter when she has gluten, so we will continue to avoid it as it is not a nutritious food, and most of the time filler anyway. But tree nuts are something we will delve into further as we move forward. Both children have had almond flour/meal multiple times without issue, and next will be things like macadamia nuts and cashews as that would open up major options for good healthy fats for growing and developing bodies and minds.
So, why do I bring this up? Well, it is obviously on my mind with the kids getting tested, but also, there was a study done with lab rats at NYU Medical Center showing a correlation between antibiotics and food allergies. Now, my children had food allergies before they ever had antibiotics, so how is this possible?
I have another theory. (I know, lots of theories today) My wife had quite a few doses of antibiotics growing up, which may have affected her gut flora and changed her microbiota. We know that infants get their first gut flora from their mother when passing through the birth canal, so if the mother’s gut flora is off from antibiotics, couldn’t it be theorized that a deficiency in the child’s gut flora at that point could cause the problem with food allergies that has to be grown out of or treated? With our medical system giving out antibiotics like candy for some decades now rather than waiting to see if a sickness is viral or bacterial, I think it’s very plausible that there could be a link here, along with the use of antibiotics in food production as well.
Again, I simply have certain facts at my hands that I can use to conjecture toward a hypotheses, and am not a doctor or scientist. But sometimes it simply takes someone who is invested in a solution, to find a solution.